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Minutewomen prepare for Brown

The Massachusetts Tennis team will travel to Providence, R.I. tomorrow to take on No. 56-ranked Brown. 

The Minutewomen have lost 15 straight matches to Brown, and have not been closer than 5-2 since 2003. The losing streak dates back to 1980, the year of the inaugural matchup between the two teams. 

The most recent defeat for the Minutewomen was a 7-0 loss last season to the Bears. In that match, Bianca Aboubakare defeated Magdalena Ploch 7-5, 6-4 in singles competition, then joined forces with her sister Carissa Aboubakare to defeat the team of Ploch and Tanisha Hodgson 8-4. The only UMass victory on the day was a strong effort at No. 2 doubles by the team of Laura Dania and Maude Lecluyse, who beat Kathrin Sorokko and Emily Ellis 8-3. 

The current edition of the Bears is 9-3 on the season, with significant victories over William and Mary and Nevada. Both of these teams were ranked when Brown defeated them. They are led by doubles competitors Bianca Aboubakare and Cassandra Herzberg, who are currently ranked 25th in the country as a duo. Herzberg also competes at No. 1 singles for the Bears, while Bianca Aboubakare plays the No. 2 singles. 

Bianca Aboubakare was the 2008 Ivy League Rookie of the Year, as well as the 2008 ITA East Regional Rookie of the year. She compiled a 28-6 record that season, including a 16-3 mark in dual matches. She competed exclusively at No. 1 singles throughout the season. Her 28 victories was good for the second all-time mark for wins in a season at Brown. She also went 20-12 on the season in doubles play. Her 48 combined wins rank fourth all time in single-season play for Brown.

Other notable players include Misia Krasowski, who is the No. 3 singles competitor and a member of the No. 2 doubles team, and Julie Flanzer, who teams with Krasowski and plays No. 4 singles. 

Coach Paul Wardlaw has played a big part in the winning streak for the Bears. Since coming from Iowa in 2004, Wardlaw has led the Bears to four straight victories over the Minutewomen. Prior to becoming the Brown head coach, Wardlaw led the Hawkeyes to the National Tournament four times in seven seasons. His most successful team in 1999 earned a trip to the round of 16. That team finished the season No.19 in the country.

Wardlaw was also named the ITA Division III Coach of the Decade and the 1993 Division III Coach of the Year for his work at Kenyon College in the 1990s. 

UMass is coming off a 7-0 defeat at the hands of the No. 37 Dartmouth, dropping its record to 7-3. The loss is the second straight for the Minutewomen.

After the match against Brown, the Minutewomen will travel to Charleston, S.C. for matches against Charleston Southern, the College of Charleston and Presbyterian on successive days. These matches are part of a six-game road trip for the Minutewomen.

Ben Lambert can be reached at wlambert@student.umass.edu.

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